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Theros Beyond Death: Chapter 7

27. 3. 2020

What was written in the Tapestry of Fate has come to be. The God and his once-Champion clashed, and the whole Theros will be changed forever. Endings and new beginnigs. The final chapter of the Theros:Beyond Death fan fiction.

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CHAPTER VII: Pantheon

 

A sharp sound like thousands of bells ringing at once to the sound of a million shattering crystal vases cut through the skies of Theros, its echo reverberating through the Underwold and like a wave rushing through the starry materia of Nyx.

 

Erebos, God of the Dead, raised his head. He had his hands full with keeping at least some semblance of order in the collapsing borders of the Underworld realms. But this actually drew his attention. Something was going on at the Four Winds Plateau, close to the site of the biggest rupture between Underworld and Theros. Time to find out what it was.

 

Deep in Nyx, Kruphix, the God of Horizons, turned his sight to Theros. What was weaved into the Tapestry of Fate, was coming true now. He knew what must be done now.

 

And even deeper in the Underworld, two divine eyes under a sheet of white fabric opened wide.

 

 

Theros, Four Winds Plateau

Elspeth’s words still echoed in slowly fading gold light. Heliod, his face still an expression of utter horror, slowly fell to his knees.

 

The world stopped. It was like all life around just ceased to be. Even the wind did not move. And then everybody felt a slight pressure in their heads, an unmistakable sign of something big to happen.

 

Something big became reality just a moment after. In front of the surprised assembly, a giant figure of a gaunt man with ashen skin materialized. His bare chest was flanked by violet, gold-lined robe and two sleek horns curved from his head. In his hand, a whip so long that its tip was not to be seen. People shook like a cold hand of death touched them. Erebos, the God of the Dead, in person.  A sight never to be seen by a mortal, and if yes, with grave consequences for his (not only) immediate future.

 

Then, a gust of air scented by seawater and dense forest just after rain. A starry figure without visible facial features, resembling a caped four-handed man. Kruphix, the God of Horizons. Elspeth recognized him at once, she already glimpsed him during her journey into Nyx, to find Xenagos.

 

Kruphix spoke, his voice cold as oceanic depths.

Heliod, your lust for power and perfidiousness endangered the whole world. You will be held accountable and judged by the pantheon.

 

Heliod did not move at all. He seemed not to acknowledge Kruphix’s words in the slightest bit.

 

Heliod, repeated Kruphix. Resistance is pointless.

 

The God of the Sun raised his head and looked straight at the God of Horizons. His eyes, radiant before, were just smoldering now. His glare shot daggers. Kruphix, his expression as always indecipherable, just nodded to Erebos.

 

Mastix, the divine whip of Erebos, slashed through the air. Its end snaked around  Heliod’s wrists and torso. The God of the Dead smiled imperceptibly and twisted his wrist. The loops tightened and pulled Heliod to his feet.

 

Heliod looked to the ground, where the broken tip of Khrusor finally extinguished the last bit of its light and became a piece of dead metal. His shoulders fell.

 

No need to do that. I’ll go willingly.

 

Kruphix opened his arms, palms upward. Blue mist swirled around and he and Heliod vanished. The loops of Erebos’s whip, losing their grasp, fell down. The God of the Dead let the whip curl back to his hand. Then he tightened a bit, like if he remembered something. His ascetic face with piercing black eyes scanned the assembly and found Elspeth.

 

Champion. His voice was chilling like a thousand crypts opened at once. Elspeth just stood and waited. Kyra and the others from her entourage, all escapees from the afterlife, inadvertently braced for the worst.

 

Many call me bleak-hearted, not knowing mercy or gratitude. And by the stars of Nyx, they are right. Mostly. There are none that can claim to have the favor or thanks of Erebos…at least not for long.  

 

But you are different. You have my gratitude. The deeds of my brother, driven by his hubris (his very nature, like the blackheartedness is mine), endangered us all. And maybe only Kruphix knows what would come to be, had you not intervened.

 

The sharp, seemingly rock-cut features of the ruler of the dead almost softened for a brief moment. A sight no mortal ever saw, and won’t probably ever see again.

 

Therefore…you are free. You, and all who left Underworld with you. Enjoy this gift of Erebos, before we met again. Because we inevitably will.

 

He looked at Elspeth for the last time. Except you. But know this. Shall your time come once… the gates of Underworld and Ilysium are forever open to you.

 

The God of the Dead spread his arms and violet mist swirled around.

 

Farewell, Champion. Or, maybe,…see you later.

 

 

***

 

 

Underworld


Kruphix let his arms down and looked around. This was not the place where he intended to be. Him and Heliod were not in Nyx, but in the Underworld. Kruphix spread his consciousness to find where exactly he appeared. He was stunned by surprise. He did not know. The only thing he was able to discern – he was so deep in the Underworld so that the place did not have a name. Heliod stood a few paces away, completely apathetic. In starry swirls, others appeared. Purphoros. Nylea and Thassa. Heroic Iroas and Mogis with bloodied axe, keeping respectable distance from each other. The goddesses of polis, harvest and affliction. In a scent of ozone, Keranos, bald head and eyes sparkling. Phenax, his face hidden beyond a golden mask. Finally, Athreos and Erebos.

 

Why did you summoned us here of all places, brother? Erebos asked. This part of my realm was unaccessible even for me for some time. Maybe only thanks to the barriers weakening I was able to get here. What does that mean?

 

Kruphix looked at him quizzicaly. However strange might this sound, brother…I have not summoned you yet anywhere, last of all places here.

 

The gods looked around. Finally, Keranos spoke, his voice crackling with lightning.

 

But if not you…then who?

 

I did.

 

The voice came from seemingly nowhere, more precisely from a solid rock at their right. Fourteen pairs of eyes turned in one direction.

 

Phenax, the God of Deception, was closest to the rock. He raised his grey arm and tentatively touched it.

 

The rock undulated and vanished.

 

Fourteen divine throats let out a gasp of surprise. A feeling very few of them felt in aeons.

 

In a stone seat, a muscular woman sat. Her white hair cascaded to her back, shoulders and chest, through two pairs of horns and two jutting shoulder pads. They spun around her spindle-staff. Her eyes were covered by a pristine white fabric scarf.

 

Kruphix grasped his head with his upper two arms, and tried to keep balance by the two lower. He felt like a dam just burst in his head.

 

It took just a few moments. Kruphix raised his head and the stars under his cape glittered more brightly than usual.

 

… Klothys?

 

 Sister?

 

***

 


Four Winds Plateau

 

When all three gods vanished, the pressure in heads of the present vanished and grave silence followed. Kyra was the one who broke it in the end.

 

“Well, it could have been worse, what do you think?”

 

The sphinx’s tone, so untypical for those usually aloof and serious creatures, acted like a spray of brine. At once, everyone relaxed, breathed out, and even several bursts of laughter were heard. Daxos’s soldiers dropped their weapons, Anax, Kyra and others sat down on the grass. Some of Anax’s satyr hoplites even began dancing.

 

Elspeth and Daxos stood a couple steps apart, eyes locked. Finally, like on an unheard order, Daxos threw away his shield and gladius, and Elspeth dropped the spear on the ground. A few quick paces and the once-lovers fell into each other’s arms, in tight embrace.

 

“Daxos,” breathed Elspeth, her cheek firmly pressed to his. “Daxos.”

 

“I’d never think I’ll see you again,” a torrent of words spewed out of her in waves and tears ran down her face.

 

“I am sorry. I am sorry. For everything. For believing in Heliod. For dragging so many people down because of my own selfish quest for redemption. For killing you…”

 

Daxos raised his hand and put a finger to her lips.

 

“Elspeth.”

 

She fell silent and raised her eyes to him.

 

“Don’t apologize. Everything is woven into the Tapestry of Fate. What ought to happen, happened. Now we stand here together – you, finally free, and me…as a god-like being.”

 

Elspeth said nothing more. She just pressed her face to his shoulder and tightened her embrace.

 

They stood like that, silent and unmoving like statues.  Then a gentle cough interrupted them.

 

Daxos turned his head and looked at Kyra. Head on side, she was looking straight into his eyes. Daxos breathed out and nodded.

 

“Elspeth. I have to go now. The Pantheon calls me. Heliod will be tried and sentenced.”

 

He raised his other hand, shining with the might of the blessed son of the sun, and gently put it to her cheek. He looked her firmly into eyes and smiled.

 

“Wherever you go now, remember this. If you want to, Theros is now and forever your home.”

 

„Farewell, my love.”

 

Daxos stepped back and his body dissipated in golden starry swirl. He was gone.

 

Elspeth took her spear from the ground. She turned to Kyra.

 

“You have known this?”

 

Kyra smiled lightly. “Many things long hidden were today revealed. It is one of the reasons Daxos had to go now.” Elspeth’s firm stare convinced her, though, to elaborate a little more.

 

“The Weaver Goddess. The Steward of Destiny.” Kyra paused and added reverently. “Klothys is back. I’d never thought I would live to see such a moment. Well…”live”. Not unless the whole Theros was destroyed.”

 

Elspeth looked back at where Daxos vanished. Kyra gently put her paw on her shoulder.

 

“He’s not coming back, Elspeth. Not soon.”

 

She nodded. Then she turned to her faithful.

 

“My friends. Thank you. We got a second chance together. Don’t waste it. Go. Rejoice. Live. Like I will now.” Then she turned to Kyra. “And thank you, my friend and mentor. Without you, it would not be possible.”

 

Anax joined Kyra. “Where do you go now, Elspeth?”

 

Kyra replied instead of her. “To where we cannot follow, even if we want to.”

 

Elspeth could only nod to the unspoken question in Anax’s eyes.

 

The sphinx smiled. “It is time. Don’t worry about us. We will make sure the new Theros is a better place, when the winds of fate bring you here again.”

 

Elspeth embraced the sphinx and firmly gripped Anax’s hand. She stepped back. Her lips formed a wordless “goodbye”. Then she closed her eyes. Kyra watched as a sun seemingly formed in her chest, glowing brighter and brighter, until it was impossible to look at. And Elspeth Tirel, once the Sun’s Champion, was gone.

 

And exactly in that moment, a voice come from afar.

 

“Stop! In the name of Destiny!”

 

***

 

Underworld, by the Boulder of Shame

 

Silence.

 

Bone-chilling cold.

 

A place so distant from everything that it seemed non-existent.

 

How long am I here? Must be hours. Or days? Years?

 

The omnipresent cold seemed to swallow even thoughts.

 

The weight of the burned is unbearable.

 

In a flash of sunlight, a human figure appeared. Heliod did not even lift his eyes. He felt Daxos’s essence immediately.

 

My own son condemned me together with all others, and now he came to mock me?

 

“I did not come to mock you. I know you are too proud to ask, so I answer you outright. The sun shines on Theros and will continue shining. I will take care of it.”

 

Heliod would never admit it, but he felt relieved. Daxos studied his face a bit and then smiled knowingly. Daxos was different from the other demigods. Others were heroes, long or not so long dead, revived by gods and imbued by Nyx, but Daxos had a part of the Sun God’s own essence in him. Someone else might thought himself better than others,but Daxos had his own nature in him still as well.

 

He won’t be like that.

 

“I have come to you, father, to help you in your punishment, or at least make it easier.”

 

“You were there when Klothys announced the verdict and my punishment.” There was almost no trace of arrogance and pride in his voice anymore. He sounded resigned. “The boulder of shame is a cornerstone, a weight that holds the locks of the titans, along with my own essence. My punishment is going to be eternal. No help here.”

 

 

“It is written in the Tapestry of Fate that help will be given to anyone who deserves it. Father, you created me and give a part of yourself into my nature to achieve it. The part allows me to fulfill the divine duties that belonged to you, but it is also your bond to Nyx and Theros. And it might ensure that the god Heliod, though no more an embodiment of the Sun, will be revered still, and not forgotten.”.

 

It was now when Heliod finally lifted his downcast eyes and looked Daxos in the face. Daxos again smiled knowingly.

 

“Long ago, the gods understood the relation to the mortals’ belief. Many millenia later they found out that believing in themselves might help. But there is one more option. One you haven’t utilized yet. You haven’t even thought of it, but I know you can use it. I know because a part of you is in me, father. It’s here, waiting to be found.“

 

 

Heliod studied Daxos’s face, looking at him, with an expression of honest care. Again he felt a wave of belief, ardent and honest belief. Daxos still believes in him, even here, in the moment of his utter shame…

 

The Sun God, bearing an unbearable weight on his shoulders, slowly closed his eyes. Daxos’s words still echoed in his mind, and he tried to think about them.

 

The belief of mortals in gods…the belief of gods in themselves…what can be next?

 

Maybe only…

 

The belief itself? Belief in others? Belief in mortals?

 

At that moment, Daxos smiled knowingly for the third time, and vanished in a flash of sunlight.

 

When Heliod opened his eyes, he was alone again, in cold, freezing silence…

 

… that somehow felt a little, little bit more bearable.

 

 

***

 

Theros, Four Winds Plateau

 

„Stop! In the name of Destiny!“

 

Calix, his gold-and-green clothes dusty, hurried to Kyra and Anax. They turned, surprised.

 

“You are too late, Calix,” said Kyra. “Elspeth is gone, beyond reach of any of us.”

 

"That's blasphemy! No one should alter the threads of fate! I have to bring her to my Lady!“

 

“Calix, your Lady – and speaking of what, also mine – is free again. Elspeth is not on Theros anymore. Your task is finished. Deal with it. So is written in the Fate.”

 

Calix looked at her. For a moment it seemed he understood, but he spoke again, in his voice mixing a part of  petulance of a child, part urgency, and part creeping despair.

 

“N…no one should alter the threads of fate! I have to bring her to my Lady!“

 

Kyra shook her head and turned. Anax too. They left him where he stood.

 

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

 

Calix stood, like frozen. Arms hanging down, white threads stopping whirling and falling down.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

 

Calix stood like frozen and sixteen words repeated in his head.

 

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

 

Calix stood like frozen and despair and anguish was growing in his chest. His whole existence had a sole purpose. To fulfill his task. A task given to him by his Lady, his creator. But fulfilling the task became impossible now. His target, the woman, vanished from Theros. Beyond his reach. He knew the sphinx spoke the truth. His entire existence became a paradox by itself, a self-contradiction.

 

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

 

The anguish became fire, the fire became blaze. He looked at his palms, for he felt he must self-combust any time, like the fires of Mount Velus. The words thundered in his mind, thunder becoming a roar of avalanche. A groan came out from his mouth, groan becoming wail, wail becoming cry…

 

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to bring her to my Lady.

No one should alter the threads of fate. I have to BRING HER TO MY LADY.

NO ONE SHOULD ALTER THE THREADS OF FA—

 

Calix’s existence exploded in a fireworks of pain…and then…silence.

 

Calix opened his eyes. The blaze was gone. The deafening words in his mind were gone. He stood on a large clearing. In front of him, a wall of red-wooded conifers with flat tops reached the sky. A clear river winded among moss-covered boulders and by a wooden bridge, a stone column topped by a strange roofed box. Calix’s mind, entirely devoid of the immense pressure of his task, had a realization crept in.

 

This…is not…Theros.

 

He looked across the river. A group of people, bald heads, tattoos at their foreheads, and clothes yellow and orange, was coming closer, with buckets and agricultural tools.

 

His mind felt beautifully vast,like Nyx itself. The space and the emptiness longed to be filled. He smiled and set out to meet the strange people.

 

 

Epilogue

 

A warm summer night covered Akros, and Anax, the once-but-again king of Akros walked the battlements of Kolophon. It was two months since the special meeting of the Council unanimously elected him the king, but it felt like yesterday. Everyday reports from the army from the borderlands, messengers from other poleis, Council discussions, everything merged into a constant influx of ruler duties that Anax cannot get rid anymore. At least during days. As a demigod, he had the advantage of not having to sleep, so he spent his nights either in Nyx, or walking around Akros and his realm.

 

In the recent months, many things came back to him, but Cymede, the only and most important, did not. He was missing her greatly. He tried to find her in the Underworld many times, but to no avail.

 

Midnight passed. Anax walked slowly, step by step, and suddenly he realized that he is heading through an overgrown and dusty road to a small temple of Keranos, on a rock outcropping just by the city. The night sky was full of stars, only far away above the sea dark clouds of gathering storm loomed. He heard a distant thunder.

 

When Anax entered the temple, he looked at the altar, unkept and overgrown by grass. He made a mental note to bring this to the Council. Suddenly a thunder boomed close. Anax looked up and saw the rolling clouds above him. The storm has come here very fast from the sea. Anax did not fear storms and thunder even before, and as a demigod, not at all. He sat across the altar and engaged in deep thought, under the rumbling thunder and lightning flashes. It was no wonder the God of Storms was angry. Nobody was taking care of the temple now. Its last head priest was…Cymede.

 

A particularly bright lightning cut through the sky, and Anax looked up again. Keranos’s hand was just vanishing among the clouds, and among the dark shapes Anax saw the bald and bearded face looking down at his derelict temple. Another lightning aimed just at the temple struck, but Anax still watched the god’s face, where a light smile appeared for a brief moment. The lightning hit the temple’s roof and the thunder shook the ground. Then the sky darkened and everything fell silent.

 

Anax looked at the altar, where a female figure stood. Another lightning, and a familiar face appeared in its light. Anax’s heart doubled its beat. She was exactly like he remembered her. He rose and went across the stone floor to her. When she opened her arms, Anax realized that the shadows on her body are twinkling with stars. He opened his mouth, but Cymede put her finger to it.

 

“Gods will always remain gods, my dear husband. Didn’t you think that Keranos would let such an opportunity pass?”

 

The storm was leaving and weakening, and above Keranos’s temple, the stars glowed again.

 

Their light fell down on two figures, standing by the altar, in a tender, loving embrace.

 

 

 

to CHAPTER VI: Daxos

 

 

This fan-fictionis unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

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